Defector tells of Assad link to al-Qaeda
THE most senior Syrian official to defect from President Bashar al-Assad's regime has told how the "tragic and unbelievable" destruction of Syria moved him to join the growing opposition movement.
Nawaf Fares, a former ambassador to Iraq, is the first senior diplomat to abandon Assad. His decision may pave the way for others, leaving the regime even more exposed.
Mr Fares made a series of devastating allegations against the regime, which he said was determined to be "victorious" whatever the cost. He claimed:
• Jihadi units that Mr Fares himself had helped send to fight US troops in Iraq were behind the series of deadly suicide bomb attacks in Syria.
• The attacks were carried on the direct orders of the regime, in the hope that it could blame them on the rebel movement;
• President Assad, who had a "violent streak" inherited from his father, was now living "in a world of his own".
He cited the blasts outside a military intelligence building in Damascus in May, which killed 55 and injured 370.
"I know for certain that not a single serving intelligence official was harmed during that explosion, as the whole office had been evacuated 15 minutes beforehand," Mr Fares said. "All the victims were passers-by. These major explosions have been perpetrated by al-Qaeda cooperating with the security forces."